Packers release former second-round safety Josh Jones; sign two rookies

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GREEN BAY -  Safety Josh Jones, the Green Bay Packers' second-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft who sat out much of the offseason after requesting a trade, is being released by the team.

Jones announced the news Sunday morning on Twitter, saying, "It's been real Green Bay. The Packers just informed me of my release."

With two roster spot already open and another soon to open with Jones' official release, the Packers announced they had signed a pair of undrafted rookie free agents: linebacker James Folston and cornerback Jocquez Kalili.

Folston, a 6-foot-3, 233-pound former defensive end from the University of Pittsburgh, had short stints with the Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans before joining the Packers. He had been making the transition from end to outside linebacker in the NFL.

The 5-10, 185-pound Kalili, who played his final two seasons in college at UNLV, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on May 12 and was released on Aug. 4.

The Jones move doesn't come as much of a surprise. The former second-round pick had slid down the depth chart during training camp and hadn't practiced since Aug. 11 because of an unspecified illness. The Packers weren't going to be able to get anything for him on the trade market because it was pretty clear he was no longer in their plans.

Jones, 24, started five of the Packers' final six games in 2018 and finished sixth on the team in tackles with 60.

Packers defensive back Josh Jones (24) stretches during a June 11 practice at Clarke Hinkle Field.

Jones had issues defending against the deep pass during his time with the Packers. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine frequently deployed Jones at a hybrid inside linebacker position during the 2018 season, but Jones made it clear he didn't consider himself a linebacker and wanted to play safety.

His status as a safety became more uncertain after the Packers moved to upgrade the position during the offseason by signing free agent Adrian Amos and trading up in the first round to draft Darnell Savage.

Jones reportedly asked for a trade during the offseason and decided not to attend OTA practices during the spring. He attended the mandatory minicamp but did not participate because of a hamstring injury.

When he returned for training camp, he was healthy and was working with the No. 1 dime defense. But that was mostly because rookie starter Darnell Savage was on the non-football illness list and not practicing.

Jones began to fall on the depth chart after Savage camp back and was working behind Raven Greene at the third safety spot in the nickel defense. He sat out the first preseason game against Houston with an unspecified injury, returned for two practices and has been out since with an unspecified illness.

He fell behind Amos, Savage and Greene on the depth chart and the solid play of free agents Will Redmond and Chandon Sullivan, who can play both cornerback and safety, made him expendable. 

Jones was scheduled to make $849,856 in total earnings this season. The Packers will gain about $300,000 in salary cap space as a result of his release.

Folston started just five of 43 games played in four seasons at Pittsburgh, totaling 47 tackles (30 solo), 3 1/2 tackles for a loss and 1 1/2 sacks. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.83 seconds, had a 40 1/2-inch vertical leap and bench-pressed 225 pounds 23 times at his pro day.

Kalili walked on at Arizona in 2014, but transferred to Mesa Community College in '15 and UNLV in '17. He appeared in 18 games and finished with 64 tackles, five pass break-ups, three forced fumbles and an interception. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds.

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